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Obama calls for change and freedom in Cuba

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President Obama urges end to embargo on Cuba

He also presses for greater Internet access for Cubans

CNN —  

President Barack Obama called for the U.S. embargo against Cuba to be lifted and for Cubans themselves to embrace change in a historic address from Havana.

“It’s time to lift the embargo,” Obama told Cuban officials and dignitaries gathered at the Grad Teatro de la Havana Alicia Alonso, including President Raul Castro. “But even if we lifted the embargo tomorrow, Cubans would not realize their potential without continued change here in Cuba.”

Obama’s landmark visit to Cuba follows the December 17, 2014, agreement to begin normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba after a more than a half century of estrangement. He is the first sitting president to visit Cuba since 1959.

In remarks Tuesday, the President used his visit – unimaginable just a few years ago – his presidency and even the ongoing U.S. presidential campaign as examples of the benefits and opportunities available to Cuba as it embraces change.

Even as terror attacks rattled Brussels and much of the West, Obama only briefly digressed from his prepared remarks to address the violence. The rest of his approximately 40-minute speech was devoted to pushing forward a new era with Cuba.